Kiev-303 - Infinity focus appears off

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ObsidianLycan

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Hi!
I adore these 16mm cameras, I have a Kiev-30 and Kiev-30. The Kiev-30 I popped open to sort out light leaks, and that one is wonderful now. However, my Kiev-303 is out of focus/blurry in my test shots. Mostly I shoot at infinity, and these are always out of focus/blurred no matter the shutter speed. Interestingly, maybe, is that a couple of closer shots I have taken (where I did adjust the focus) do appear a little bit sharper (to my eyes, a little anyway). Certainly these close-ups are more inline with the Kiev-30 in sharpness (if you can use that as a milestone, in this case I think so hehe)

I have opened up the Kiev-303 since these shots were made, and can verify the lens does move as the focus wheel is turned. Another thing is the front of the lens had some clouding/gunk/fungus which came off with a Q-tip dipped in peroxide/alcohol and doesn't appear to have etched anything. I will need to shoot a test roll to see if there is any difference, but thought I would as is it likely crud on the lens could cause this blurring?

If its likely a focus adjustment that's needed, I am happy to open it up and try again. Any suggestions for how I can calibrate the focus on this is some sort of logical fashion?
 

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xkaes

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It's difficult to judge the images regarding correct focusing due to the "crud". It seems very noticeable in the shot of the building. It basically is like adding a soft-focus filter -- so correct focusing can't be determined.

Now that you've cleared up the lens, make a shot at infinity, with the distance set at infinity, 2 meters & 1 meter (using a ruler). Use a 1/250 shutter speed in the sun -- so you can stop down. ISO 100 film will be f11. Then see what's what.
 

Donald Qualls

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so you can stop down.

Wouldn't you get more information on wrong focus setting by shooting wider -- say, f/5.6 or even f/4? Stopped down enough to be sharp at critical focus, but not so much as to make DOF a big player? Using slower film will play into that, and give finer resolution in scanning or printing the negatives to get the magnification needed to assess focus. After all, a Kiev 303 is hyperfocal at not much beyond 1 m at f/11...
 
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Throw it into the ocean and get a Mamiya 16 🦞

But seriously, the results seem to be on par with just about any antique 16mm camera. I really doubt anything from an earlier model would have had any better mojo. Maybe you could post some examples from the 30.

In any case, troubleshooting these sort of simple problems is usually an onus of the OP around here.
 
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ObsidianLycan

ObsidianLycan

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It's difficult to judge the images regarding correct focusing due to the "crud". It seems very noticeable in the shot of the building. It basically is like adding a soft-focus filter -- so correct focusing can't be determined.

Now that you've cleared up the lens, make a shot at infinity, with the distance set at infinity, 2 meters & 1 meter (using a ruler). Use a 1/250 shutter speed in the sun -- so you can stop down. ISO 100 film will be f11. Then see what's what.
Thanks for the suggestion. I just loaded up some more film and I will try this soon. I took the whole thing apart again tonight, balanced the lens part on a tripod and stuck some scotch tape over where the film plane would be. I must say it looks okish with a loupe (hard to tell on such a teeny image, many just wishful thinking :D). I am hoping that it was the crud on the lens making the soft focus effect....I will report back when I have tested with measured distances and made some notes while shooting :smile:

Wouldn't you get more information on wrong focus setting by shooting wider -- say, f/5.6 or even f/4? Stopped down enough to be sharp at critical focus, but not so much as to make DOF a big player? Using slower film will play into that, and give finer resolution in scanning or printing the negatives to get the magnification needed to assess focus. After all, a Kiev 303 is hyperfocal at not much beyond 1 m at f/11...
This is a good point, I will throw in some different f-stops into my testing (and make notes). Thanks for the suggestion; more information will certainly help troubleshoot this.

Throw it into the ocean and get a Mamiya 16 🦞

But seriously, the results seem to be on par with just about any antique 16mm camera. I really doubt anything from an earlier model would have had any better mojo. Maybe you could post some examples from the 30.

In any case, troubleshooting these sort of simple problems is usually an onus of the OP around here.
D: If I threw this one away, my Kiev-30 would get lonely!

I understand they are antique small cameras, so I am certainly not expecting epic quality. Just reaching out in case anyone has any tips, and I do accept I will probably just have to open it again and have another tinker about :smile:

Same film strip, cut in two and shot on the two cameras in one weekend, and also developed together. It does systematically look like the 303 is blurry, at least to my eyes after scanning and working on the negatives. Maybe it is just some effect of the crud that was on the lens, I will test again soon!

Kiev-30
k30.jpg


Kiev-303
k303.jpg
 

koraks

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The blurriness in the lower left frame (Kiev 303, cherry blossom and church) looks like motion blur for the most part.

The initial example with the motorcycle has the advantage that it has foreground as well as background, so logically, something should be in focus in that image. It seems like the actual point of focus is around the handle bars of the machine, and since that area is fairly blurry as well, I suspect that much of the lack of sharpness you're seeing is just inherent to the optics. This may be a sub-optimal lens design, or, quite likely, poor quality control in lens manufacture.

You could shoot a series of exposures of a scene with lots of detail ranging from close to the camera all the way to infinity. Set the focus to different spots; e.g. as close as it will go, at around 10 meters and at infinity. Evaluate the results, preferably on the negative itself with a loupe. I'd suggest using b&w film instead of color because it's often easier to interpret. Check if the area of best focus agrees with how you set the focus on the lens/camera. If so, and there's still considerable unsharpness left, you'll just have to take it for what it is.

Another thing is the front of the lens had some clouding/gunk/fungus which came off with a Q-tip dipped in peroxide/alcohol and doesn't appear to have etched anything.

I'm sure that didn't help with overall contrast and apparent sharpness. Good job removing it!
 

xkaes

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I suggested a fast shutter speed and a stopped down lens to see if the camera is capable of good pictures at all. If the three exposures don't come out perfectly, there are serious problems with the camera. If they do come out OK, then further tests could determine the problem.

Why start out with complex testing, when a simple, quick test might be all you need? When your car stops running, you first check if there is gas in the tank, you don't do a complete tune-up. Well, maybe you do -- I don't.
 
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Donald Qualls

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This may be a sub-optimal lens design, or, quite likely, poor quality control in lens manufacture.

The Kiev 30 and 303 have triplet lenses, just like the Kiev Vega and the Minolta 16 and 16II they were patterned after. I have both a 30 and 303, and both are capable of sharp images; mine, at least, also have accurate scale focusing (I've shot at the closest 0.5 m setting with good results on a number of occasions).

Now, a poor example lens is a very real possibility, especially in a 303 (like the Contax-pattern Kievs, the older cameras seem to be better made). My own preference is for the 30, but both of mine are capable.
 

xkaes

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The great advantage of the Vega's and Kiev's over the Minolta's is the focusing lens. OK, they were all f3.5 triplet lenses, while the Minolta's were typically four-element f2.8 lenses, but that's why the Kiev's were f3.5. It's the same thing as with the Rollei 35 cameras. They had f3.5 triplet Tessar versions, and f2.8 Sonnars -- but they both produced great results.

I like my Vega 2, but they are all simple, well-made, rugged cameras. Sure, this could be a lemon, misused or damaged, but it's more likely to be something else -- in my opinion.
 
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